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A Division Bench of the Bombay High Court, comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice SS Shinde yesterday expressed concern over the delay in conducting exams for class 10 and 12 students on account of the COVID-19 pandemic (Arvind Tiwari versus Union of India and Ors).
Lamenting the lack of certainty in examination as a result of the pandemic, the Bench expressed its “concern for the examinees in view of the prevailing situation”, where “number of persons testing positive for COVID-19 in the State (of Maharashtra) is on the rise together with the toll.”
The PIL before the Court pertained to the conduct of Class 10 and 12 board examinations by the Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations (the Council).
The hearings, which were scheduled to commence last Thursday, had been deferred to give time to the Council to formulate a grade plan for the assessments. The Court allowed the further deferment of proceedings in response to a request by the Counsel for the Council, but only till June 24, 2020.
The Court, however, sought responses from the Centre as to “whether any decision has been taken pursuant the Order passed the Hon’ble Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court in regard to the remaining subjects of the Class X and XII examinations”, due to be conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Council.
Appearing for the Cenre, Additional Solicitor-General Anil Singh had stated yesterday that he would apprise the Court of any decision taken by the Centre in this regard.
The Advocate-General for the State of Maharashtra, AA Kumbhakoni, also assured the Court of a clarification in respect of the conduct of examinations by the time the case is next heard.
Today, the Supreme Court was informed today that a decision on whether or not to hold this year's CBSE exams would be taken by tomorrow evening. The top Court also granted the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) liberty to follow the decision taken by the CBSE, with necessary changes.
The Supreme Court was hearing a plea seeking cancellation of this year's CBSE exams, filed by the parents of students scheduled to appear for their Class XII Board exams in July.
Before the Bombay High Court, Petitioner in-Person, Arvind Tiwari, has sought the cancellation of examinations scheduled for July 2020 and urged that the results be completed on the basis of the pre-board examinations and internal assessment report.
However, Dr. Birendra Saraf, senior counsel appearing of an intervenor in Interim Application No.5 of 2020 (Ramchandran Narayanan and Ors. in the matter of Arvind Tiwari versus Union of India and Ors.), has urged the Council, the Centre, and the State Government to leave an option for examinees willing to write their examinations physically to so do.
Dr Saraf emphasized that any decision to cancel the examinations without leaving such an option would be “detrimental to their (the examinees’) interest”.
Appearing for the Council, Aditya Mehta, drew the Court’s attention to proceedings in respect of the same subject-matter before the Supreme Court.
The Division Bench took notice of the various submissions, and recorded its cognizance of the proceedings before the Supreme Court, while directing the adjournment of the proceedings to June 24, 2020.
The Court refused to issue prohibitory orders in intervention applications against certain school principals insisting on the examinees to exercising options by the next day, stating that it would intervene “as and when the situation requires."